STAGE-DOOR Theatre Company’s latest show, Kindly Leave the Stage, opened with a seemingly conventional staged dinner party between two couples who had clearly known each other for some time, writes David Hampton.
So far so good – not a play that was going to set the world on fire but one that might be mildly entertaining.
About halfway through the first act the actors started missing their lines and needing prompts.
It was at this point that the audience couldn’t quite work out what was happening and started look around for some sort of explanation.
The explanation was that the show was a very cleverly written play within a play.
As soon as the audience understood what was going on they were able to focus on a much more interesting piece of drama.
The actors all gave excellent portrayals of their characters both in their slightly dull stage roles and as the much more animated actors of the repertory company.
There was a positive change in the delivery of their dialogue and physicality.
Fiona Humphrey changed from the dutiful wife into a woman in love which reflected exactly what had happened in her marriage.
Dave Humphrey was convincing as the typical hard working solicitor who really doesn’t want to be bothered with having to deal with work related problems at home particularly when it isn’t quite his field of law.
Claire Cossins looked lovely and was convincing as the lover that Rupert had taken, if not on the rebound then perhaps casually.
It was clear that she cared significantly more for him than he cared for her.
Barry Tinkler played his character in a manic crazed fashion that in retrospect had been obvious from the opening of the play. He showed how good he had been at maintaining this characterisation when he was challenged by Charles to do some ‘proper’ acting.
Maureen Ayres was excellent as both the slightly overbearing mother and the solid supporter of real acting talent seen from the perspective of an established theatrical career.
Dave Griffin was excellent as Mr Cullen as he was jolted by various incursions of the new reality of the play.
I particularly liked the way that he suddenly launched into his famous King Lear moment with real conviction and gusto.
The Lear speech had been well chosen by the playwright to represent the madness and disappointment of old men.
Shannon Glenister was appealing and funny as the star-struck prompt. I especially liked the duty first aid officer [Micki Darbyshire] whose dogged longsuffering determination so closely reflected the real-life counterpart. Both parts added to the credibility of the play.
The technical aspects of the play – the costumes, the lighting, props and stage management – also gave good support to the overall performance.
Kindly Leave the Stage was directed with attention to detail, the actors all conveyed their characters with conviction and pace. The story was interesting and genuinely funny. The whole company did extremely well to maintain the story line which, I think, could easily have been presented as a one act play.
Written by John Chapman
Directed by Micki Darbyshire
Performed at the Windmill Entertainment Centre, in Littlehampton.